If you are considering making an application to contesting a will, it is important to make sure that you are legally allowed to raise a dispute.
One of the main criteria for deciding if a person is entitled to contest a will is whether or not they belong to one of six defined groups that are considered to have the legal right to challenge a will or probate process.
In this guide, we will outline these six groups, along with some of the complex rules that define each group.
Whether you are related by marriage or by blood will play a factor in determining your right to contest a will. Those family members that are blood relations are in the Inheritance Act, together with a specific list that names relatives that can make a claim for declaring a will invalid.
Even if you aren’t a blood relative, your relationship with the testator will be taken into account. Moreover, you do have legal protection in those cases as well.
Beneficiaries of the will
As a beneficiary in a will, you have a legal entitlement to inherit your piece of the will. Consider two things that the executors of the will might not do.
- First: what if they don’t pay you the sum the testator left to you?
- Additionally, what if they don’t hand over any items the testator left to you in the will?
You’d have grounds to make a claim. This way, you ensure that you receive exactly what you deserve. By not executing the testator’s wishes as to the will states, it would be the case that the executor is acting unreasonably in their legal duties.
Furthermore, as a beneficiary, you can also dispute the division of the rest of the will. Especially if you consider the division of the deceased’s estate to be unreasonable. It is worth remembering that, when considering a will, the ‘estate’ is not just property, but also entails the whole lot. All of the testator’s possessions, cash holdings, savings accounts or investments, and even the land they own.
Therefore, consider if you were in business with the testator as an equal partner. Next, the other business partners receive a greater share of the business than you were. Accordingly, you may feel that this is unfair and want to contest this.
Beneficiaries of earlier wills
As new people come into their lives, people do change their wills and will add these new people in. As a result, people previously in a will may be subject to removal. For example, if a person divorces and then remarries. It’s understandable that they would remove their ex-spouse from their will and replace them with their new spouse.
However, if you’re in an earlier version of a will but not the recent version, you can dispute the will. But only if you can prove that there is a valid reason why you should still be a beneficiary.
For example, say your ex-spouse pays you child maintenance to support the child(ren) you had together. But then the spouse dies, leaving you nothing in the will to help with the upbringing of your child(ren). Then it would be understandable that would want to contest their will.
With this example, any money or other part of their estate your ex-spouse leaves to your child(ren) belongs to them. Most likely, it goes into a trust until they reach adulthood. This money is not for you to use to raise them. You would need to make a separate application for the will to provide continued child maintenance payments.
In addition, this group could at times raise a dispute that causes a criminal investigation to commence.*
Creditors and contesting a will
If you are someone the testator owes money to, you can claim this debt from the testator’s estate. If this is you, you should first try to have what is known as a Section 27 notice sent out. This can be a providence to help those the testator owes money to.
Say you were relying on inheritance for your future that the testator says you’ll receive. As a result, you may be able to challenge that person’s will if they don’t follow through on that promise. You should know that this can be a complex area to dispute though. Therefore, seeking legal advice as early as possible is smart.
You’ll need to prove the promise was made, and that you’re suffering as a result of the promise being broken.
Even if you are not related to the deceased, you may be able to to make a claim to their part of their estate if it can be shown that you were financially dependent upon the deceased, whether this was monetary or in the form of accommodation. This group has protection under the Inheritance Act, so you will normally need to make this claim within six months of the probate date.
How we can help with contesting a will
If you fall under any of these categories, there is a chance that you may be able to successfully contest a will.
However, it’s essential that you take appropriate advice before contesting the will.
This is where The Inheritance Experts come in. Following your free, no-obligation discussion with us, we will transfer you to a specialist solicitor. Your solicitor is keen to challenge the will or probate process on your behalf given the circumstances of your claim. In turn, it helps you to get the share of the estate that you deserve.
*Particularly if it can be shown that they have been taken out of a will due to fraud or a person wielding undue influence on the testator. Especially when they were not in a fit state to be making decisions about amendments to their will.